Monday, October 27, 2014

"India" not Vedic, the Buddha not Hindu

Urizen; Maya, Amber Larson, Dhr. Seven, Ashley Wells, Seth Auberon, Wisdom Quarterly
Hindu wedding sometimes included forced marriage, now less likely (

Indo-Greco art gave us first Buddhas
Wisdom Quarterly reader Urizen writes in response to The Buddha was a Hindu, right? Wrong to say: "Hinduism is NOT Vedic. The Vedic religion of the Indo-Aryan tribes no doubt had some influence on their surrounding cultures, but they were politically, economically, linguistically, and ethnically distinct from the rest of India for most of their history.

[Of course, Urizen, this area was not "India" as there was no "India" just loosely warring and sometimes affiliated kingdoms/principalities/republics called janapadas, of which 16 are remembered as major "countries" or territories of their own, whose uniting features was that they were each ruled by a separate family clan.]

Only briefly under the Mauryas were the Aryan lands brought under the same rule as the East, and even today they remain distinct (ever heard of Pakistan?) 

Vedic gods? Shiva, Krishna, Ma Durga
[No, Urizen, what is this "Pakistan" you speak of? You mean that Muslim-majority janapada created overnight out of British-ruled northwestern India under Nehru a few years back, 1947 to be exact?]

"The Vedic religion is CLEARLY different than Hinduism, which derides and ridicules Indra; at best, it treats him as a mascot. No, [the] Buddha was not a Hindu, but not because he wasn't a Vedic believer (though, in fact, he worshipped MORE Vedic Gods than Hindus, following Sakra and Igni).
[Whoa, Urizen, we would never go so far as to say he "worshipped" anybody. Of course, you mean Prince Siddhartha Gautama who later became the Buddha, but even still, when is the prince recorded as worshipping anybody?
Siddhartha and Pajapati Devi
The royal family, rulers of the janapada, a great expanse of land with one of its seasonal capitals at Kapilavastu (which we, along with Dr. Ranajit Pal, think was what is today called Bamiyan, Afghanistan, a great Silk Route crossroads that made it rich and sophisticated, cosmopolitan because of all the travelers from Magadha, Varanasi, and the far reaches of Central Asia and Africa, like Egypt and Israel, which are both in Africa although people deny it).]

[The] Buddha was not a Hindu because Hinduism is a MADE UP religion, just like "India" is a made up country.

[That is very true, Urizen, and very astute of you to notice. However, "India" claims it is descended by the ancient Aryan land that ruled the entire area, which history remembers as the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC), which includes a large part of Central Asia coming down from the Himalayas and today's northern India.
The Vedas and Vedic culture are the products of the IVC, not India. And the Buddha's family land -- extending from perhaps Gandhara to the east and as far west as Iran and up through today's Stans -- can be called Shakya-land or Sakastan in Indo-Scythia.
Divali, the "Festival of Lights," is a holy time of year in India (Getty Images).
Bamiyan, Afghanistan, today
We mention this because the Shakyans revered Sakka Devānam Indo, "Sakka King of the Devas," so much so that the Shakyas are called Sakkas (Sakas, Sokyas) in the texts, and Sakka (Indra, Sakra, a powerful deva who protectively looks over the world) seems to be why India is called India (Indo), in our opinion. Etymologists must have a better explanation.
Dr. Pal suggests that India's greatest emperor, who became a Buddhist and had famous enlightened kids who became Buddhist missionaries, was not actually Indian but came from farther west, just Siddhartha and Buddhism did. But we believe Siddhartha traveled east to Bihar (the modern Indian state named after vihar', the many Buddhist monastic complexes that once dotted the land like an early Pagan/Bagan, Burma, which are called viharas).

Smuggled Gandhara-Buddhist treasures of Pakistan, part of Pashtun Afghanistan, as both modern countries were both part of ancient Gandhara, India (
Asoka's symbol was borrowed from Buddhist iconography for a world monarch (chakravartin, wheel-turning emperor) and sits in the center of the modern Indian flag, a thousand-spoked wheel (or vimana). But Sakka (Indra), as you say, Urizen, does not get much reverence in India outside of Buddhist circles, nor does Maha Brahma (creator of the cosmos and/or this world), the supposed namesake of Brahmanism, the Brahminical tradition that became Hinduism). But then, Urizen, we would have to talk about the great Brahmana/Shramana divide, the difference between settled temple priest teachings and the dharmas of the unsettled wanderers (Scythians, nomads, seekers, wandering ascetics).

Thank goodness for Jainism, which sits in the middle, accepted by Vedic-Hinduism and much discussed by Buddhism as an analogous non-Vedic movement. And what about the yogis from around Patanjali's time? They seem more shramanic than Vedic Brahminic. But modern Hinduism tries to subsume them all under its banner. The Buddha is not Hindu, the Jains are not Hindus, and even the yogis may not be all that Brahminical, preferring instead a shramanic (shaman) kind of way of life. Look at them in Nepal and northern India today when a Kumbha Mela comes around.
Great rivers of the Middle Country, Sindhu, Saraswati, Vedic India (wiki)
If the Shakyans were Scythians, which we think they were, then they were proud (insolent, arrogant toward Brahmins and settled "Indian" ways), nomadic, agrarian pastoralists. They get labelled "kshatriyas" (warriors, nobles, rulers) by Brahmins trying to subordinate them and normalize their own pro-Brahmin caste system, which Brahmins claim they inherited from the Vedas of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization.

The Shakyans did not follow this caste system and instead regarded themselves as superior to the Brahminical priestly/intellectual caste Shakyans regarded as chaplains, ministers, and advisers.

Angry Brahmin hitting Ganesh
The British anthropologists and "Orientalists" of the time were so overwhelmed by the diversity of spiritual experience/religious expression. It was a hodgepodge that included everything, so they simply termed it "Indus-ism," in other words, all the stuff they practice and/or believe in and around the Indus River.
"India" today is east of the Indus, but at that time British colonialists held land from Sri Lanka up to Kashmir and Ladakh, as far west as Afghanistan (the Durand Line when they were crossing zero) and the provinces of Iran (the Aryan land), and as far east as British Burma. It's amazing how big the British Empire and the Dutch East India Company and other capitalist European ventures extended throughout South and Southeast Asia, with perhaps only Thailand escaping the scourge of colonialism, that is, slave-laboring for far-off British masters.]
There was no such civilization, no such religion, and there still is not. How many times do you people have to get bombed by random terrorists to figure out that the sh-t you're trying to spin on[?]

Indus Valley Civilization, Shakya-land, Central Asia
[Urizen's 10/17/14 letter ends there, because it seems Blogger cuts commentators off. Thank you, Urizen. We don't know what to say about your final question, if it was a question. One more time? Random terrorists need to bomb us one more time for us to figure out that shytza we are trying to spin? Urizen, we know India is not the originator of the Vedas and Vedic culture.

Hindu Ravana (
But Hindus in India think they are. They regard themselves as Vedic, as inheritors and custodians of the Vedas, the sacred IVC texts.

(But isn't this exactly like Christians in the U.S. and the Americas thinking they're continuing the biblical traditions of the Near East and Central Asia. What do we as modern cultural Judeo-Christians know about Sumer, Mesopotamia, Babylon, Egypt, and Israel -- Abrahamic lands/cultures? Yet, we regard ourselves as Abrahamic. Why can't Hindus regard themselves as "Vedic"? It may not truly be. But they, like us, are the ones giving lip service to that part of our human family's past. We do not see any other group anywhere near the IVC following Vedic/Indus Valley Civilization culture. Do you see one, Urizen?

Do the Pakistanis, who are so proud of the glory of Gandhara and Taxila (where the Bodhisatta attended college long, long ago, long before he became Siddhartha or the Buddha) and the more ancient Harappa, first excavated in the 1920s, in what was then the Punjab province of British India (now Pakistan) and Mohenjo-Daro?

What are you saying, Urizen, that "India" is an amalgam all up and down the Indus river and surrounding the Ganges river? D'er and d'uh, right? We mean of course that's the case, but that's got to count for something. Are the Afghans keeping Vedic culture alive, or are the Sikhs, the Sufis,  the Parsis (Zoroastrians) of Iran and Bombay (Mumbai)? Is it happening somewhere in nomadic Kazakhstan, isolated Hunzaland, or amalgamated Mongolia?

Even in the Buddha nearly 3,000 years ago spoke of the ancient and glorious IVC, its many kingdoms and technological achievements. "Brahmins" of the ancient past recited the Vedas, the Vedic texts of the seers (rishis) and starpeople (devas). Now if today some families, wishing to hold on to privilege and legitimize themselves and their ill-gotten gains, wish to uphold a rotten caste system and place themselves on top of it, what's new?
Hindu Sri Mariamman Temple, Singapore (Kasei/
They were doing that in ancient Magadha, where the Buddha lived under the patronage of King Bimbisara, and Varanasi (Benares), and King Pasenadi's janapada, and the other kingdoms of the subcontinent when the Buddha was saying that one is not and cannot be a Brahmin, a noble person, by birth. It is by one's actions (karma).

But that does not deny that we are also bearers of our previous karma, our actions (thoughts, views, speech, and physical behaviors) in the past. Those old actions are coming to fruition NOW as "mental resultants" (vipaka) and "fruit" (phala), and they lead (not force) us to experience the predictable results of privilege and paucity. Social systems are unfair and must be overturned to be set right again, but karma engulfs us all, including the gods (devas and brahmas).

Sincere THANK YOU to reader Urizen for engaging us on this important topic. Happy Divali! We hope to hear from Urizen again, possibly as a regular contributor on the Vedas or with a regular column called "GRINDS MY GEARS"?

(Family Guy) Peter Griffin tells America what really grinds his gears. WARNING: Profanity!

No comments: